It was August 2007. That year was one of those times that life seemed a challenge and I didn't know what was coming next or how I would manage to find the answers that I was seeking in life. God has, it seems at times, a strange sense of timing, or is it just His greater wisdom.... I am not sure always, but when the time was just right things happen and we bend, change or hang on for dear life to strive and see the meaning, value and message of the moments. Summer of 2007 was one of those summers. My quiet heart was crying, my life needed something... I wasn't sure what!
So it was that during a few conversations, my wife Karen was asking about our annual journey to the Mahone Bay Boat Show. The topic always came around to the idea of my Son and I entering a strange little competition called the "Fast and Furious", where the entrants strive to build a seaworthy boat within a time limit, using a designated and supplied amount of material and then sail and paddle the craft over a preset race course for the famous and coveted "Pewter Cup" For many it was the highlight of the 4-5 day event culminating with the races on Sunday afternoon where hundreds came to watch.
Well, Ben was none-committed at first though there was that sense that this might seem like a challenge to him. Little did I know the challenge was not the build, but the team-mate builder.... ME! So, with a trunk full of allowed tools and a doubting heart off Karen and I went. We registered, sat and watched others with the 4 hour build and saw the strategies and downfalls of the other competitors. A couple from South Carolina who vacationed in Mahone Bay and that we had gotten to know asked about our entering the competition and our answer was, "yes, we had decided to this year... I would be entering with our son." They were so happy and told us that they were entering as a team as well... this is for the most part a non-professional event and they had made plans all winter and were prepared to take the cup! Well, we had no plans unless Ben thought of something on the way down that evening.
Ben arrived almost late... the judges were concerned, but he arrived with an entourage of girlfriend and her family in tow and asked if I had a plan. "Nope! Hope you do!" To which he answered, ''Oh well, we will wing it! We usually do!" "But... we had never built a boat before... so what are you thinking?" "Dad!...Just try to keep up!".... "Hmmm!" So a few minutes later the judges told us to get out our tools (mine... Ben didn't bring a thing except his attitude, of course!) and get ready. He gave us the minor instructions and off we went. I enjoyed the build... I stood and watched, passed Ben some tools for a while and held the end of a piece of stick from time to time until suddenly he just went and sat done next to his girlfriend and said, "Your turn!" So I laughed and started to continue the build. I think he had in mind that I would plead for him to continue, but this ol' duck had other plans. So, after a bit he caved in and joined the fun. What about the other team who was building?... Oh I went over and chatted with them, asked if they were having fun and so on and told them I thought they were doing well... of course they were struggling.. this was their 3rd year of competing! And the judge just watched, listened to our laughter and banter and once and a while came over to look at the design and did ask where our sketch was. "In his head I guess" was all I could answer, to which Ben would retort.. I thought this was your design!" So we had a great time and laughter was the theme of the hour with great shouts of jovial teasing from the crowds. We finished the build in the shortest time of the event. We won the races that Sunday and took home the coveted cups. The judge said after the build, "You must work together all the time and had this secretly planned!" "No... nothing like that... just two minds working together, linked by a love that binds and matches our efforts and a need to be together here tonight... that is all... no plans only just to do this together!" "Never in over 20 years has a build been so fluid, so much fun to watch and you never skipped a beat.... thank-you... it was great to watch" he said.
Time and tide have changed things. There is no longer a Mahone Bay Classic Boat event... it has changed too! Ben and I, though we built together one evening and raced together that following Sunday in our build, we never built another boat again. But we have built a deeper relationship... and he has rebuilt his life. He married his girlfriend, has a son that may one day build a boat with him and is expecting another... perhaps a boy again.... and he is building something everyday as a contractor. His love for the build has grown, his love for life has taken him though he brain tumor and his family has taken him back to his faith. I like to think that the build may have been part of the reason. A father and a son... a project without a plan.... that just takes shape and becomes a work of art and a desire to win beyond the degree of the knowledge of experienced builders and youth of the other racers. Life can become a whirlwind of challenges and as I think back over that summer I can now see that the build was a starting place for me too.
It is not that we have to reinvent ourselves, but sometimes we need a way to re-evaluate that which is our life and find some way to accomplish what is to be our future without destroying ourselves and what God has planned for us. Though I entered the competition with a hesitant heart and not much expectation, I came away with a new view of what can be, in the pool of what was. That pool held resources yet untapped and ready to be experienced for both Ben and me. I took one path and Ben another, but it has not taken us farther apart, but drawn us closer together. Time and tide have a curious way of bringing change, but also a marvelous way of creating that which should be, if we allow it to manifest itself in the shape and time it needs to become.
So, we both walked to the edge. For different reasons, with different attitudes and under different circumstances, but we accomplished the ultimate goal... it included a cup... but that was not it.. it was the experience of father and son doing it together and accomplishing the joy and love we both needed... and we won! Take a walk towards the edge and see what you see... you may need to change your perspective, but hey... maybe it is time for a change. Blessings as you walk!